The Professor Helps!Professor Jennifer Haston- Author, Speaker, Activist- Accomplice to the Oppressed- helping people live their best lives. Inspiring one person daily!
As I was preparing for the “First Monday Night Prayer” which is a night our church family shares in community, food, and prayer I got to thinking about labels.
Somewhere along the road, I decided that being a Christian meant that you had to quote the bible all the time and it “looked” a certain way. I am delighted to find that life is full of so much more gray than that.
Take me for instance, I have many hats. I am a speaker, a manager, a coach, and an actor and a singer. Those are just a few. I am also a sister, an aunt, and hopefully one day, Mom. This singing that I did for the church is as a direct result of my performance history and my wanting show my love for God. This post is not so much about that as the realization that you don’t have to accept the label that people give you especially when its a negative one.
Statement- Oh, she is a Christian- so she is righteous and religious and judges me.
No, I am a Christian, who believes in God, and is here to serve others and more importantly to meet YOU where YOU are. No judging here.
Statement- Oh she is an actor- so she is flighty and undependable
No, I am an actor which means I show up on time ( to fight that stereotype ) and am dedicated to my craft and work harder than anyone you have ever seen to bring a character to life.
So what is the point in all this you ask? Simple, you are the only one who puts limits on who YOU really are. A wealth of things await you in this life, all you have to do is be brave enough to call yourself what you are and own it.
This quote from Zen Pencils (you should really check this stuff out its inspiring) really landed on me.. especially because this is one of my favourite quotes by Marianne Williamson-
“our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate….. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”
It was scary for me to sing for God, mostly because I have never done it before, but shining my “light” in that way made me feel really good and I hope it helped someone else see, “Hey, I could do that, too!”
Every year, my dear friend Jessi makes Christmas cookies from scratch and provides an assortment and (keeping in mind which person like which cookie) its just as labor-intensive as it sounds. I have “helped” her do this exactly one time and that help pretty much consisted of tasting batter and entertaining her with stories and occasionally moving one dish from the table to the sink. Her love language is Quality Time so it works.
Lo these many years, bemoaning my lack of ability to cook I allowed myself the use of premade cookie dough and occasionally would spoon it on to a cookie sheet (instead of my mouth) to “make cookies” for people I cared about. But over the last few years as I learned how to make cakeballs (to great compliment) so I can no longer say that I don’t know how to cook, I did attempt to find out how to make my Aunt Nancy’s cookies which is are known all over St Louis for being amazing. I watched her once and despaired I would ever figure it out. It is not that difficult, it simply takes effort which I recently learned is well worth the time to expend. Let me explain.
On Tuesday night, I hung out with my friend Meredith and amidst lots of time spent and grocery shopping we made over 100 cookies, some for the church, some for my team, some for the checker at the grocery store who took notice of us and said, “I want some cookies” so we brought him some. He was happy and surprised that we did.
I was struck by how easy it is to take the shortcut and buy the premade dough and if you do this, I want to be clear, I am NOT judging you, as there is definitely something to be said for the sacrifice of time for convenience. The difference between the prepackaged cookie dough cookies and the homemade cookies you mix the flour, sugar, butter and chocolate chips is like night and technicolor morning! I had no idea the difference was so stark. The richness of the flavor, the sweetness of the chocolate chips each one melting in your mouth, absolute heaven! How does this relate to love you ask?
Simple, we can love everyone the same, cookie-cutter emotions, words and ideas or we can choose to take the time, the effort, and the energy to find out exactly what the other person wants, needs, and desires. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes effort. However, the result you get is much like the difference between pre-packaged cookie dough and the cookies we painstakingly mixed, scooped, and baked the other night with the most important ingredient, LOVE.
I come to you today to ask a question. What is your love language? I actually was very surprised when I went to this link to take that quiz. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
The last time I took it, was seven years ago when my boyfriend (now husband) agreed (at my urging) to take it so we could better communicate and relate. In retrospect, I remember thinking it was a fun exercise and didn’t have much to do with how I would behave moving forward. I know at the time, my highest score was “words of appreciation” so while actions are still important, as a logophile (lover of words) I love words of appreciation. Really shocking.
However, the more important result was my partners. Acts of Service is the best way to show your love to him. This would likely not surprise anyone who knows him. He is the kind of person who not only would give you the shirt off his back if you didn’t have one. He also would take particles and pieces of things from the ether to MAKE one for YOU before ever thinking of HIMSELF. This makes him a giving and selfless person and utterly lovable.
I hate doing landry so much so that I have a saying.. “I love you laundry loads” which for a long time was an “inside story” I had with a member of my family of origin which I have mentioned to my husband in passing, and he has truly taken it to heart-
What this means is I love you as much as I HATE doing laundry. Simple and awesome right? It turns out my husband understood this much better than I did… Since he did an act of service for me.. which would be doing the trash, dishes, laundry and cooking.. things like that.. you know the things we all would rather not do. Well I came face to face with the fact that acts of service means more to me than I thought because the other day, though he was bone tired, my husband finished my laundry for me. I woke up early to finish.. and lo and behold I woke to find this ==which is the physical manifestation of someone loving ME Laundry Loads. I teared up a little and headed to work, happy with my lot in in life to be loved so completely.
In case you are curious, this my love language NOW –
|6||Words of Affirmation|
|5||Acts of Service|
It lines up well with my values, because as many of you, quality time is hard to come by and the most valuable commodity to me. It behooves all of us to know how the people in our lives can “love us better” so I recommend you take the quiz, at the very least to understand more about yourself and how you feel most loved.
Think about it…..
I do a lot of talking about self-care to my coaching clients. The idea normally involves a bubble bath, a cheesy movie or a chocolate treat. Today I am talking about the self-care you can do for yourself that helps your health. Doing something that makes you FEEL good matters. I used to run until I hurt my back so for now I walk. Most recently, I walked 1.82 miles with my husband (proud of you honey!) and that felt good for lots of reasons but mostly because he walked with me and was proud of himself for doing so.
But back to taking care of yourself, so in my journey to feeling better, I tried doing a lot of things. First, I stopped exercising at all, which has the double whammy of not being good for you and making you feel bad (no good).
Second, I went to see a doctor who told me, “you are getting old this is normal” – All due respect to your medical training, doctor but I am 38 and not even close to done working on what I can and can NOT do with this body of mine, thank you. (annoying, and a more than a little condescending, so also not good)
Third, I went to a chiropractor who asked me what do you do all day? Do you sit? Do you stand? Do you stretch? What do you do for exercise? After a few minutes, he was able to tell what was wrong and how to go about fixing it. HALLELUJAH! Now, I don’t want to give the impression that it is a magic wand, and I am all better. Like anything else in life, it’s not that easy. The chiropractor told me that in a few weeks I could go back to walking (I have done so!!!) and in a few months I can go back to running (patience, Iago!) but the biggest thing he shared with me is that I am in CHARGE of stretching, standing and walking and incorporating more movement in my day (hold on, time to stretch) and the people who are the most successful with maintaining health are the ones that manage their own care. WHAT A CONCEPT! Seems simple right?
Wrong. We are creatures of habit, so I have had to break the habit of constantly sitting, and every 30 minutes a timer goes off so I remember to stretch. After a few weeks of doing this, I am happy to report, I almost don’t need the timer… my body is adapting and the lack of pain is helping to solidify the habit. You will note that I said, “almost” because it is not worth it to me to “forget” that stretch so crucial to keeping me aligned and out of pain.
If you are the type to need some science to back up the fact that its bad to sit all the time, here is an article or two for you to peruse.
If you don’t sit at your job and this doesn’t apply to you, great! Likely you know someone who does and this could perhaps benefit them, and help them avoid the issues I experienced.
So back to you, dear reader, what do you do for self-care? What do you do to maintain your health mental and physical? What habits do you need to break? What habits do you need to build? What can you do TODAY to make your life better?
Think about it…….
If you are anything like me, you enjoy social media but in our Tuesday night meeting, the Toastmaster posed the question, “Social Media- Blessing or Curse?”
I got a lot of answers to this during the meeting, some of them arrogant and funny and others poignant and thoughtful but it got me thinking..
I say both with the caveat that like everything else, balance is required.
Case in point, Our Toastmaster attempted to periscope the meeting but realized while he was doing that he wasn’t fully “engaged” in the speaker or the meeting. This is a real hot button of mine because I think too often in our “must have it now” society we spend a lot of time comparing our lives to those people we are friends with on social media and not knowing the ins and outs, we judge ourselves and find our lives lacking.
I personally have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love to hate people who use it too much. Okay but seriously, I think it has its place. I have made and maintained many friendships with people online who I have never met and I can honestly say that encouragement helps and that “like” or “comment” (mostly the comments) keep me running or walking when I REALLY do NOT feel like it. So it’s healthy in that sense that we can encourage each other, but the flip side is we can also hurt each other with social media by posting vitriol and racist and really unpleasant things.
So as my husband put it, “Social Media is kind of like The Force, you can use it for good or evil, so on any given day you can choose to be Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. What will you choose to be ?
one post on facebook talks to you about donating to a worthy cause while another complains about something that while its “trending” isn’t worthy of your time to read about. I guess that’s the point, you decide what you want to use your time and energy to spread in the world.
What will you meditate on? Good or Evil?
Think about it…..
Last week I wrote about “abandoning the checklist”– Wow, is that easier said than done. It turns out, old habits die hard and what you resist persists.
As many of you know, I have been having back problems, well I recently made contact with a great chiropractor and I feel optimistic for the first time in months that I won’t need back surgery which was a looming prospect.
It has involved adjustments and a change in behavior for me. Every hour, ( I set a timer) I have to get up and stretch. (my job is very sedentary and involves lots of not getting up and moving. I do walk around from time to time, but nothing like this.
Not only do I feel better, I get the chance to support my people better because they see my face, I don’t have it stuck on my monitor all day.
I could beat myself about the head and shoulders for not doing this sooner but I have opted instead to “meet myself where I am”…. So what does that mean?
- I will walk when I exercise not run for a while.
- I will LET GO of having to do a 1/2 marathon this year.
What do you need to do to “meet” yourself right now? Are you pushing yourself too hard? Do you need to push yourself, is it time to make that decision you have been putting off? Or is it time to give yourself some grace, and make a decision to tackle it anew tomorrow?
Think About It….
It is not enough to say you want to do something. You must put a deadline on it.
If you have a dream to move to another city, state or country. Do what a very famous director in Austin told me when I was directing my first production many years ago –
“Work backwards from opening night.”
Let me be more specific, Write on your calendar “GOAL” and then work backwards, what must you do in each week to get there?
If you want to learn a language, don’t say you are too busy, figure out if its important enough to actually do it and find the time.
Do you want to run a 5K? Don’t just talk about it, join a running group, or even start with a cause you believe in more than the comfort of the couch, that’s how most people do it.
If you want to speak professionally, speak every chance you get and ask for feedback from people who are better than you, join Toastmasters and keep speaking every chance you get so you have every chance to get better.
My blog is all about getting people to live their dreams, not just talk about them, so I challenge you, yes you, reading this.. What do you want to do ?
Make a plan, and get some accountability partners and then GO DO IT.. What are you waiting for? There will never be a better time to start.
My cake balls are important. I don’t make them often, and especially now that we are doing paleo 95.4% (yep I did the math) of the time cake balls are usually not on the menu. So it is special when I make them and my husband is always telling me how good they are. I love that man.
This is what I hope my kid will say one day because I will make cakeballs and he or she will bring them to school for the bake sale or some other such moment. For now, I can make them for my nieces and nephews when they ask and that makes me smile. I hope they will ask (but in case they don’t) I will post it here–
Future Son or Daughter:”How did you learn to make such great cake balls, Mom?”
I will smile wistfully and say, “Your Aunt Alexandra taught me”
I may or may not choose to tell them that I didn’t know how to cook until I turned 32 and this was the start of that…. (will depend on my mood) You can’t really plan these things.. but I digress.. back to the present day–
I made some for my team today and I could feel a real lift in the general “mood” of the day.. I mean who doesn’t like cake.. which got me thinking……
If I feel that good about making something for my team, how much better is it going to be to do it for my own flesh and blood? So this is sort of a nod to the future me, no, I am not pregnant, thanks for asking! but I did send a copy of this post to http://futureme.org/ (which lets you send an email to your future self one month or many years into the future which I think is awesome..) Think how vastly changed your perspective changes in just one year, and then five and so on… How valuable will that email be ? I think that it is very easy to get short-sighted and just focus on what things look like RIGHT NOW and get tunnel vision but if you look carefully and shift that kaleidoscope a little, you get a different view and sometimes that makes all the difference.
Think about it…
Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of the day I married my husband. It was a great day after a lot of stress and planning to make the perfect day.. I tell you this because I think its important to look back and say, If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t change anything but I might not stress as much.. There is no such thing as a perfect day but this came darn close. My family and friends went out of their way to make it wonderful.
You know who you are, but in case you don’t!
Alexandra Russo- breakfast, hosting the rehearsal dinner, and last minute detail work on my dress!
Rachel Meissner- all the care and love you put into helping me pick out the flowers and the dresses and hostessing the shower and helping keep me sane and… I could go on and on.. but you know how grateful I remain even now.
Jennifer Durbin- You hosted a wonderful bachelorette party that was EXACTLY what I wanted and also kept me sane during a crazy crazy time!
Jessica Brill- the one true SWADIC- helped me with so many details I have lost count including but not limited to the not stressing (goldfish be gone!) over and over again
Joan Ellen/Mom- words don’t begin to cover it, not only did you make my dress, drive in to finish said dress, keep me sane through the entire process and continually remind me that the dress was just one piece and to enjoy my day and not “stress the small stuff” and its all small stuff”
The common theme here is stress or worry– you always worry about the things that don’t happen– and some of the things you NEVER worry about come to pass and there is no predicting it so what is the point? Well, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have an event coming up (doesn’t have to be a wedding) that you are stressing over, use the 2, 2, 2 rule, oh you don’t know that one.. well let me advise you what I mean.. If you are stressing, ask the question
Will this matter in two hours? Will this matter in 2 weeks? Will this matter in 2 months?
Happy Anniversary Jeremy!